Each week Ozarks Sports Zone ranks the top teams in Southwest Missouri based on dominance by class, essentially the pound-for-pound comparison of those teams compared to the best in the state. Rankings are sponsored by CoxHealth.
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1. Lamar (2-0, 1) – Two things I know: Coach Bailey and the Tigers like to keep things close to the vest and they flat out know how to win. In fact, win is a major understatement. The Tigers feasted on Big 8 foe East Newton to the tune of a 63-0 win Friday night, bringing their squeaky clean win streak to 37 games and increasing their 2017 scoring margin to 91-0. The Brotherhood heads to Aurora this week to face a Houn’ Dawg bunch riding high off a big road win against state-ranked MV-BT/Liberty.
2. Webb City (2-0, 2) – The Cardinals’ revenge tour continued Friday night with a 28-7 win against rival Carthage; payback for a 34-21 defeat at Carthage last season. The opportunistic defense has been the big difference from this season to last. They picked off three more passes, bringing the season total to six. Interestingly, it’s former Carthage superstar Trey Derryberry, now Webb City’s defensive backs coach, who orchestrated that performance. Derryberry even received the game ball following the big win over his alma mater. After facing back-to-back state ranked opponents, the Cardinals travel to 1-1 Republic this week.
3. Mtn Grove (2-0, 3) – The Panthers stream-rolled their way to 2-0 Friday night with a 56-14 win over Strafford. The Panthers don’t exactly chuck it around the field all night, but man-oh-man can they run it. Chance Barbe and Carter Otwell combined for 301 of the Panthers’ 309 rushing yards, outgaining Strafford 309 to 32. That’s a great way to win football games and they’ll need a lot more of it this week as they host Ava in our Game of the Week, a game that will likely decide the outcome of the South Central Association.
4. Carl Junction (1-1, 5) – If you had questions about the Bulldogs following their hard-fought loss to Webb City, your questions are answered. CJ put it on Republic 39-0 Friday night led by junior running back Rayquion Weston’s 112 carries and three touchdowns on 18 carries. Showing great balance, CJ also found success through the air with Joe Kennedy’s 203 yards and two touchdowns on an ultra-efficient 9-11 passing. His top target Aaron Ludders picked up 146 of those yards on six grabs. We’re looking forward to another showdown this week as CJ hosts 2-0 Ozark.
5. Ava (2-0, 7) – Welcome to varsity football Forsyth! The Bears gave the “new kids on the block” a lesson in what hard-nosed SCA football is all about Friday night, beating the upstart program 56-6 in Ava’s home opener. Caleb Johnson is best known as the Bears’ quarterback, but looked more like JJ Watt Friday night, racking up five sacks. Meanwhile, Quincey McDonald paced the offense with 75 yards and a touchdown on just six carries. Things amp up big time this week as the Bears travel to Mtn Grove for our Game of the Week and what figures to be an absolute showdown against the 3rd ranked Panthers, who have won the last seven matchups dating back to 2010.
6. Ozark (2-0, 8) – It appears the Tigers were no one-hit-wonder. Coming off an eight-win season that included upset wins over Carthage, Carl Junction and Webb City the COC Large champs have picked up right where they left off with another win over Carthage and a 38-7 blasting of Neosho last week. Coach Depee’s crew continues to get it done with old school philosophies like run the ball (223 yards) and play solid defense (0 passing yards allowed). They’ll need to put it all together this week as they travel to face a highly-motivated Carl Junction squad.
7. Pierce City (2-0, 9) – It’s long been surmised that winning Class 1 football games comes down to having a couple of stud skill players. Well, Coach Hocker’s Eagles have more than a couple. Trey Sagehorn (141 yards), Kaleb Meyer and Gage Brown all found the end zone in Friday night’s 31-16 home victory over Liberal with Brown picking up two scores. And the scary part is that weapons don’t stop there. The green machine goes for 3-0 this week at 1-1 Jasper.
8. Mt Vernon (2-0, 10) – To be fair, Catholic looked like the better team for a large part of the game Friday night, but all that matters is the final outcome, and thanks to Jayden Buttram’s 26-yard field goal with 5.2 seconds left the Mountaineers came away victorious, 16-14. Despite a couple costly 2nd half turnovers, an exhausted Ty Boswell showed great poise to lead his team to victory. Lamar is clearly the king of the Big 8 Conference right now, but Mt Vernon is certainly working its way into the conversation and they’ll face another major task this week as they travel to defending Class 3 state champ Monett (2-0) Friday night.
9. Lincoln (2-0, NR) – New coach, new quarterback, new season, same results. The Cardinals have outscored their first two opponents 88-2 after Friday night’s 42-0 blanking of Appleton City. Derek Stephens led the way with 225 yards and five touchdowns on just 15 carries. He also chipped in 10 tackles on defense. The Cardinals should cruise to 3-0 this week as they take on their third straight winless opponent, Slater.
10. Seneca (2-0, NR) – We heard more coaches talk about Seneca being a team to watch in the Big 8 than any other school in any other conference. I guess they were right. Let’s use the transitive property for a minute here to give you an idea of how good the Indians have been. They opened by beating Nevada (who beat 5th ranked KC Center last week), then beat 10th ranked Osage 27-7. By my math that means they are pretty good for a team that won five combined games the past two seasons. This week they host another team off to a surprising start, 2-0 McDonald County.
Knocking on the Door: Camdenton (1-1, 6), Carthage (0-2, NR), Glendale (1-1, 4), Thayer (1-1, NR), Lebanon (2-0, NR), Lockwood (2-0, NR), Cassville (1-1, NR)